Docherty, Kevin Edward
Improvements to the alignment process in electron-beam lithography.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Electron beam lithography is capable of defining structures with sub-10 nm linewidths. To exploit this capability to produce working devices with structures defined in multiple 'lithographic steps' a process of alignment must be used. The conventional method of scanning the electron beam across simple geometrically shaped markers will be shown inherently to limit the alignment accuracy attainable. Improvements to alignment allow precise placement of elements in complex multi-level devices and may be used to realise structures which are significantly smaller than the single exposure resist limit.
Correlation based alignment has been used previously as an alignment technique, providing improvements to the attainable accuracy and noise immunity of alignment. It is well known that the marker pattern used in correlation based alignment has a strong influence on the magnitude of the improvements that can be realised. There has, to date, however, been no analytical study of how the design of marker pattern affects the correlation process and hence the alignment accuracy possible. This thesis analyses the correlation process to identify the features of marker patterns that are advantageous for correlation based alignment. Several classes of patterns have been investigated, with a range of metrics used to determine the suitability and performance of each type of pattern. Penrose tilings were selected on this basis as the most appropriate pattern type for use as markers in correlation based alignment.
A process for performing correlation based alignment has been implemented on a commercial electron beam lithography tool and the improvements to the alignment accuracy have been demonstrated. A method of measuring alignment accuracy at the nanometer scale, based on the Fourier analysis of inter-digitated grating has been introduced.
The improvements in alignment accuracy realised have been used to facilitate the fabrication of 'nanogap' and 'nanowire' devices - structures which have application in the fields of molecular electronics and quantum conduction. Fabrication procedures for such devices are demonstrated and electrical measurements of such structures presented to show that it is a feasible method of fabrication which offers much greater flexibility than the existing methods for creating these devices.
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